There is much debate about the origins of the sash window. Some evidence suggests they were invented in Holland in the 18th century. However, more recent studies believe they may have been invented right here in the UK, as early as the 17th century.
In the 20th century, sash windows continued to develop as they had done for the previous 200 years. In the 1920s and 30s, chains started to replace cords in domestic sash windows. Chains had previously been used in larger sash windows but were largely confined to public buildings like post offices and libraries. With the increased mechanisation of the 20th century, chains were now more affordable and considered stronger, even in domestic settings.
During the Second World War, a shortage of steel and high costs saw sash windows dip in popularity for the first time. As material supplies were low, sash windows were replaced in many homes by mass-produced cheap windows. The sash was considered old fashioned, although largely due to circumstances rather than anything to do with style.
The trend to replace them continued into the 50s and 60s as the modern age gathered pace.
It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that people began to really appreciate the quality of well-made sash windows. People started to replace and repair sash windows in period properties, restoring them to their former glory. Modern style sash windows also started appearing, with double glazed panels and high efficiency ratings.
As we entered a new century, the 21st, sash windows were as popular as they had ever been. The brief slump of the 20th century, brought about by the change of war, was over. Period houses, restoration projects and even new builds proudly display their timber sash windows today and will do for years to come.
The Sash Window Workshop has extensive experience manufacturing, installing and repairing wooden sash windows across London and Southern England. Traditional timber window specialists, we can comply with conservation area and listed building requirements, where necessary.